tv

Netflix Noise: The importance of a simple sound

I hadn't noticed it myself, even as an avid viewer of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. I even loved the new season of Arrested Development. But even I had overlooked the fact that Netflix had copied the most ingenious part of HBO's plan of cable world domination.

The HBO "fuzz" has been written about ad nauseum and its effects are absolutely real. I'm a product myself. My grandparents always had HBO when I was growing up as my Papaw was a fight fan. I loved the fuzz and all the things that followed whether it was Fraggle Rock or forbidden late night movies after the grandparents went to sleep. Regardless, I've always been sold on HBO. Buying boxes and boxes of DVD's in the years that I didn't subscribe to the channel directly.

And, in the years since, yes, I've fallen in love with Netflix and their new original series and massive movie collection. But surely they're not quite equals yet?

Maybe not for us, but that all brings us to the Netflix noise and it's genius in their long term plan. My kids watch all the Netflix children's series, as well as lots of great movies from our childhood on the service. And now, before every one of those originals (like the brand new Danger Mouse series which is really amazing for kids or grownups), the kids see the Netflix logo and get a loud and satisfying "dum dum". The Netflix noise. I love it. And, I'm sure, 20 years from now, my sons and daughters will have the same affinity for that noise as I do no for the HBO fuzz. Luckily, they both live happily alongside each other on my Apple TV.

[youtube=://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP9RIO-rhZE&w=854&h=480]

Walking Dead Season 6

(Spoiler Alert)

While the season as a whole was one of the strongest in the entire run, three separate times the writers and producers chose to take a cheap out and tease a major death without actually paying off.

One of these, I could've stood. Two even, I would have understood. But three insults the intelligence and the patience of the audience.

It's not about blood lust. I don't want any of these characters to die. It's about honest storytelling. The Walking Dead has earned its perch atop the pop culture mountain specifically because they've made the crazy hard calls that most television series just won't. The same sorts of shocking moments that made the comic such a hit to begin with.

Think about the characters that we've lost (and the shocking ways we've lost some of them) in the seasons that came before this one. And of course we lost people this season. There were real shocking moments (maybe none so much as Denise's death by arrow) but we also had Glenn "torn apart" under the dumpster only to find a few weeks later that it wasn't him that had lost his guts, but the convenient other body that fell on top of him, nevermind what it looked like.

We also got the cheap blood spatter on the camera last week implying that Darryl was dead at the hands of Dwight. But we all expected that to be a tease for this week, as you couldn't rightly kill the Bowman last week AND have his head on the line under Lucille THIS week. Ugh.

Glenn's dodge I was okay with. Mostly because I really thought it was a faint to make people think he'd be safe from Lucille and then pay off the moment that so disturbingly graced the comics. I was upset about the way they played out the Darryl thing last week, but I could forgive it. This is the big season finale, the reveal of Negan, they wanted all eyes on the this one.

So, going into tonight we were square, the producers and I. I was fully prepared to get all tense and upset, and then to mourn the loss of one of imaginary friends at the hands of Negan and his barbed bat. But then...

We didn't get a corpse. We got a death! But no body, no face, no reactions from the rest of the group. It's not Carl (because Negan threatened the rest that he'd tear out the kid's other eye) or Rick (Negan said they'd feed the eye to him), but other than that, it could be any of the group. In interviews, the cast has made it clear that they don't know who was on the receiving end of that bat. I imagine that the producers don't either. And that's a cop out to me. Yes. Any choice would've angered some fans. But they will eventually have to decide who they've killed. This way, instead of a summer of debate and slowly dying backlash, we'll have a summer of unrest in the fanbase and likely group testing the decision. Ugh.

It's not like I won't be back in the fall to find out who's died, but regardless, I'm angry, and left with a disappointed taste in my mouth.

Rick and Morty Season 1

Finished on February 25th, 2016

This is a show that I knew was on the air but thought it was something for kids. You get enough recommendations from friends and you decide it's time to finally take the dive.

The series is bizarre, no doubt. The basic premise is this: Rick, a drunken super-genius, is aided in his inter-dimensional quests by his hapless grandson, Morty.

The characters and their relationship are a pretty bare riff on Doc and Marty from Back to the Future. But they just use that as a jumping off point for an insane ride through pretty much every pop culture reference possible.

They do such a good job of slowly easing you into the insanity, waiting until the next to last episode to fully introduce the concept of the multiple Morty's and Rick's.

But what makes the show really worthwhile (especially in the context of my reviewing long form television alongside movies) is the ongoing study of the family dynamic. This show is really about relating with people. Forming and maintaining personal bonds, even though your own personal issues make that difficult or unpleasant. In that way, this is very much a sister project to Community.

I love the Dan Harmon impersonation that Justin Roiland provides as his Rick character. As a long time fan of Harmon's work (that finds Harmon himself often problematic and irritating) this is very rewarding. Morty's evolution over the first season is much better drawn than you might imagine for a show so full of poop jokes. But such is the dichotomy of R&M.

I hope there's a bit more serialized storytelling in season two, but the bits they do include so far are fine on their own.

4 stars.

A Little Rogue's Dreams: Why Heat vs Spurs Makes Me Feel Like a Kid Again

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Tonight, the NBA Finals begin. The San Antonio Spurs seek their 5th Championship under the historic reign of Greg Popovich and Tim Duncan. They face the defending champions, the Miami Heat, Led by reigning NBA MVP, LeBron James. In 2007, James led the Cleveland Cavaliers against this a San Antonio team comprised of the same three leaders (Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli) and coach (Popovich). James said yesterday and interviews that he was humbled in that finals appearance. A feeling that he'll never forget.

It's a series I'll never forget it either. I've always been a basketball fan, as long as I can remember. Jordan, of course, was my first idol. Nike's commercial series was nothing if not effective in planting (in perhaps every child in the Western Hemisphere's mind) that they wanted to be "like Mike". God I did. I still do.

This past Monday night, as Honeybun and I watched LeBron and the Heat win their third consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, I told her that even now, I'd give up almost anything to have the physical abilities and size to play professional basketball. It's silly but it is my dream.

That dream started with Michael breaking free from gravity and defying his opponents to win again and again and again. It didn't take long to realize that a dream was all it would ever be, while there have been small players throughout the history of the league and desire and hard work can achieve a lot, the tallest anyone has ever been able to credibly described me as is "around 5 foot 9" and that was being generous.

I'd never play at the highest level (honestly, I never played at many of the lower levels), but I've always followed the sport and I always intend to. LeBron James came back into the league I was reborn anew as a fan. I literally made a T-shirt. During his first year in the playoffs the popular "Witness" T-shirts were ever-present in the city of Cleveland, and I'm sure in other major cities around the countr,y but in my neck of the woods there were none to be had. So I bought a black T-shirt, and I printed out an iron-on transfer and I made my own shirt. I was a fanboy there's no doubt about it.

I haven't made a shirt since then, but my love for LeBron has not faded. I understood when he made, "The Decision" but was worried that he'd never find the greatness that I once imagined he would achieve. I don't know exactly what it was that flipped the switch for LeBron, writers better than I have speculated on it already and someday I'm sure a great book will be written about it. But he's made it to the top of his powers and mental abilities seemingly earlier in his physical prime than almost any other player in NBA history. He does this all while having an unbelievable understanding of and appreciation for the history of the game. He respects and loves the NBA and basketball in general at least as much as any active player. It turns out LeBron's a fan just like us. Well, not just like us.

I'll stop my little love note to LeBron here with this:

That series against the Spurs during his Cleveland days was as much a heartbreak to me as the fans there in Cleveland. While I can't know exactly what it is to stand at the top of my profession and then be humbled on a public, international stage. But I do know what it is like to see a seemingly unbeatable hero bruised and broken.

When I was a kid I read comic books, and just as I was reaching adolescents DC Comics decided to kill Superman. Of course they brought him back, but that storyline changed something to me at least. The status quo could be broken, icons could fall, heroes could die.

When the Spurs beat LeBron up in 2007 was a little bit like reading that "Death of Superman" comic book. It took quite a while but just like in the comic books where Superman was reborn and finally got a rematch with Doomsday, LeBron has got a chance to exorcise some old demons and make sure that the heroes come out on top again. Maybe it's time to go get another iron-on.

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Did You Hear the Clock Start Ticking Again?

Fox has announced that "24" is returning next spring.MG Siegler is excited, with a few qualifications. I agree pretty much completely with him. "24" was really an idea born a few years too early. If it'd started just a couple of seasons later, the quality might have been even higher, since it likely would have been a short season from the start.

I can't wait to watch Jack Bauer save the world again.

Amazon Makes It's Online TV Move

According to AICN, Amazon will make a big splash with online TV on Thursday.

Ain’t It Cool hears that Amazon is posting its comedy pilot "Zombieland" (and maybe the six other comedies) this Thursday, where it will remain -- free of charage -- for a month.

Honeybun and I just got through Netflix's new remake of "House of Cards" which had its first season released at once exclusively on Netflix. It was expensive looking, well-written, well-acted and generally awesome. I can't wait for the second season.

I'm a little more worried about Amazon's approach. They've made 7 comedy pilots (no word from what I've seen on the budgets for these shows) and will let their customers vote (again, starting on Thursday according to the above linked article) on which shows go to series.

I understand the reticence to spend big money on something unproven. I also understand the buzz that the free trial and voting ideas will create.

Generally, though the quality television in recent years has come from creators that are allowed to follow their vision with as little interference from the studio or network as possible. You get the best creative mind with the most original idea and then you let them go and create. That's how you get "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" and "Game of Thrones" and "The Newsroom" and "American Horror Story."

Maybe it's vastly different doing comedy? We shall see. Regardless, I'm excited for more "Zombieland."

Please don't suck.

To Larry Hagman, and His Eyebrows

I'm going to share a secret between Honeybun and myself.Every week when we're finally able to watch "Dallas" I cue it up on the TiVo and then head to the kitchen for drinks, snacks etc while the "previously on" plays. But no matter where I am or what I'm doing when that iconic theme begins, I start my song and dance (imagine the tune now) "Larry Hagman's eye-ibrows, oh, Larry Hagman's eyebrows!"

And so it continues until the song is done. I never said I was a great songwriter.

Last night, I thought for a minute that the producers knew about my little routine and wanted Tao make sure I'd take at least a week off. The new theme is amazing if you haven't seen it, check it out.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6l3Ti5-AMY]

Larry passed away last year during the filming of this second season of the "Dallas" reboot/sequel. It's been a pleasure to see his final work over the last seven episodes or so, and the producers, writers and actors gave him a very fitting farewell.

To me, he will always be J.R. Ever scheming and plotting but always worth letting back in the house once his plots had failed because, well, he was tremendously entertaining. Larry and J.R. were one of the rarest of pairings. The perfect actor in the perfect role. It transcends performance or even pop culture and seems to become real. We knew J.R. Ewing and so we will miss him.

House of Cards, and the Netflix Exclusive

Sunday, Honeybun and I took it easy. We slept late. I cooked breakfast at eleven. And most of our day consisted of nothing but a marathon of the last four episodes of "House of Cards". The series stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Kate Mara. Executive produced by David Fincher, it's based on a British miniseries and novels. It's gotten critical acclaim from pretty much every corner, and with such pedigree, why wouldn't it?The only surprising thing about the series is its distribution. It's the first Netflix produced original series. No HBO, no network, no cable, not even any DVDs or Blu Ray's as far as Netflix has detailed so far. Just 13 great hours of television that's available anywhere you have web access or the Netflix app.

And what a series it is. It's not cheap, and it doesn't seem to have any of the tell-tale "web video" signs or signals. This is real TV. Every bit as well-produced as the latest series from HBO or Showtime. This is pay-cable quality programming. And it seems to be the future.

Netflix' stated goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become Netflix (and an HBO only subscription is coming, sooner or later). This first big step in my mind is a great success.

I'll try to stay spoiler free, but I want to mention a few things I love about the series.

1. The theme song - cold, imposing, atmospheric. Just like the D.C. that the show presents.

2. Kevin Spacey - terrible accent and all (it does thankfully recede as the series continues) this is one of Spacey's best performances.

3. Robin Wright - One part Carmella Soprano, one part Lady Macbeth and two parts smokin' hotty, Robin Wright might be the first person to win an Emmy for something not on television (are these shows eligible for award season?)

4. Instant Gratification - You have an afternoon to waste fill and want to watch more? No problem. Try that with the latest season of "Game of Thrones" or "Mad Men". It took Honeybun and I about a month to get through the series, but we could have watched all 13 episodes of Season 1 (Season 2 is in production now) all in one sitting. That's a real game changer and should shift the other networks' habits even sooner than other aspects of this deal.

Overall, the first season was great. Solid acting from top to bottom, engaging story lines, beautiful set design and cinematography and as much entertainment as quickly as you want to take it in. What more could you ask for?

Ok, maybe a premiere date for Season 2?

We Are All Podcasters

As I read a great article by Mike Elgan this morning, I couldn't help but be reminded of the old adage, "We're all in sales." The idea being that everyone is selling themselves if not a product or service.Elgan's discussion of Apple's "Podcast Problem" made me think of a new adage that I've been trumpeting around the radio station for a while, but it's application is even more broad than actual broadcasters.

We are all podcasters.

Or should be.

The future, and really the present, of media consumption is on demand and over IP. That means that everything, music, movies, tv shows, blogs and even games will be and increasingly are accessed almost precisely like podcasts.

It's been almost a year since I started my first Podcast and it has been the single most creatively rewarding experience of my life. It's also given me a broader audience and bigger mic than anything else I've ever done independently. You can and should build your own today.

If you are a creator of any kind it is imperative that you get in front of or at least in line with this trend and recognize your new role before it has left you behind.

Thank You, 30 Rock!

I’m a few weeks late, but congratulations and thank you to, Tina Fey, for 7 great years of “30 Rock.”

Amazingly, I thought this show would get crushed under the epic success of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”. Yep, that’s right, Aaron Sorkin did a show about sketch TV and couldn’t last a season.

I’ll always have a place in my heart for Liz Lemon. I’m awfully glad she got her happy ending. Thanks for the laughs, Liz!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQGNDZhBvX8?wmode=transparent&autohide=1&egm=0&hd=1&iv_load_policy=3&modestbranding=1&rel=0&showinfo=0&showsearch=0&w=500&h=281]

twoguysonepod:

The latest video from Two Guys, One Pod. Our tribute to the late, great, Sherman Helmsley.

FREE Funny every Sunday morning at TwoGuysOnePod.com 

RIP, Sherman Helmsley.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evCS62BFnEE?wmode=transparent&autohide=1&egm=0&hd=1&iv_load_policy=3&modestbranding=1&rel=0&showinfo=0&showsearch=0&w=500&h=281]

Once the NBA Finals are over, this is where all my focus goes. “Breaking Bad” is the best straight drama on TV and the best show not named “Game of Thrones” that’s currently still airing.

Let’s get cooking. 

'Game Of Thrones' On Track To Be Crowned Most Pirated Show Of 2012

Saw this news yesterday and immediately thought the same thing. Dear HBO, offer your HBO GO service (with added compatibility for Apple TV) and I’ll pay $13.99/mth for it, straight to you (or through iTunes if you don’t want to figure out how to take payments). Ask me to pay $20 and offer a few more compelling reasons (commentary tracks?) and I’d come on board. So would millions.

At $14, twice the price of Netflix, I say your piece of Netflix’s current subscriber base would be at least 50% in a year. This is the future. Let go of the past and blaze a trail into something far more amazing (and profitable, long term).

parislemon:

Can’t for the life of me imagine why this is.

No worries for HBO though, as cord cutting is clearly just a fad that will go away once the economy improves. Or something. 

Morons.

25 million downloads of season 2 so far and counting…

'Game Of Thrones' On Track To Be Crowned Most Pirated Show Of 2012

Couldn't Have Said It Better

Irons is the only thing that is ever intellectually stimulating about this show, I’ve found, but he (combined with the beauty you so aptly detailed) is enough to keep me watching it.

diretrouts:

Just finished series one of The Borgias.

It was good.

Not particularly intellectually stimulating but it was definitely captivating.

It featured some very, very attractive actors which was nice (spotlight on Julia, Lucrezia and Sancia.)

The costumes were incredible. That was probably my favourite thing about it.

On to season two!

(Where apparently half of the cast have different hair… which is… strange.)